May 30, 2017

Pontus is Dead

Barbarians in the big city. What can you do about it?

Gerard and Pontus made their way back to the inn the evening of 22nd day of Flocktime. Sir Gerard explained the encounter with the mind flayer and that Pontus' brain had been partially eaten. Sarril placed some healing on the wounds, but it didn't seem to improve his mental condition. Sarril decided he would need to do some research in the morning, but was suspicious that the mind flayer might return, so decided to sit invisibly in Pontus and Jarrus' room, ready for something to happen. Sir Gerard went back to his own room to sleep.

Right about the stroke of midnight, four babau demons appeared in the room and impaled Jarrus to within an inch of his life. This wasn't the encounter Sarril was expecting, but he was ready. He screamed for Pontus to wake up and sent his companion, Krek, to wake up Sir Gerard. When Pontus woke up, a few rounds later, he was no longer babbling and drooling. He was fully functional, though 8 intelligence points lower than before. The fight went several rounds, with Sarril alternating between healing Jarrus and casting various enhancements on both fighters. Many scrolls were burned and potions were consumed, and Jarrus narrowly avoided death several times. Eventually, Sir Gerard showed up, and Sarril was able to get a Minor Globe of Invulnerability up, which negated the babau's gaze attack. Finally, Sarril was able to burn a scroll of Force Cage, taking two of the demons temporarily out of the fight. The tide of the battle was now turned, and the party was able to push through to victory.

Sir Gerard, who previously suspected that the Daern's Instant Fortress was cursed, now believed it was something in Jarrus' possession that was attracting these demons. Jarrus turned out his pockets and empty his bags. Something clicked. He had 24 gems taken from Zuggtmoy's throne, where previously he had 33. Nine were missing, which is exactly the number of babau they had faced so far. The party agreed the gems must be cursed. They talked about going and exchanging them at the Moneychanger's Guild, but Sir Gerard stood his ground, stating that these cursed items must be destroyed. And so Pontus placed the gems on a magic shield and smashed each one with a magic mace, just like a blacksmith using an anvil. After crushing each gem to dust, the party went back to sleep.

The next day, Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry library to research mind flayers, while Pontus talked to Olaf, the proprietor, about how to make some money. It seems that Pontus had developed some severe amnesia, and while he knew the names of his party members, he couldn't remember anything that happened over the last couple of days, and he had only vague, sporadic memories of anything prior to that. Olaf explained to Pontus, once again, how he could make money fighting in the The Pit. Pontus thanked Olaf and made immediate plans to join the fights that evening. In the meantime, Sarril's research didn't return promising news. Few people were ever known to survive an Illithid attack, and those few who had were never the same again. Still, he thought to take Pontus to the Temple of St. Cuthbert to see if they could help. After making an excessively large donation, he was able to meet directly with the High Priestess Eritai Kaan-Ipzirel, who expressed that this was definitely uncharted territory. She did have an Elixir of Health, which cures Feeblemindedness, and it was possible that his affliction is similar and this could help, though there was no guarantee. She also expressed it was their last potion, and they did not have the ability to make more at this time. She asked why Pontus was more worthy of this potion than her own paladins. Pontus replied that he was not worthy, and that St. Cuthbert has already helped him more than he deserves. Both Sarril and Pontus agreed that when the time comes that St. Cuthbert calls for their help, they will provide it. This pleased the High Priestess, who sold the potion to them. Pontus drank it right away. It did not have an immediate effect, and the high priestess explained that if it is going to work at all, it may take some time.

(DM's Note: I decided that brain injuries are going to heal slowly for anything short of a Wish or direct divine intervention. I established a rule that each morning, Pontus will have a percentage chance equal to his constitution score to heal one point of intelligence that day. With each point of intelligence recovered, he will get some portion of his memories back. Even though his brain has been physically healed, this represents the slow process of reorganizing his thoughts and memories)

Aestrella Ashfarel
That afternoon, Jarrus went out to check on his armor, which was coming along nicely, and Pontus went out to buy some horses. Pontus got distracted along the way by a beautiful woman who turned out to be Aestrella Ashfarel, Grand Diva of the Opera House (who was "slumming" in a little-known sweet shop run by some women in the Artisan's District, where she could get away from her fans that recognize her). Aestrella was incredibly charming, and Pontus was once again in love. He insisted that she come to the pits to watch him fight to prove his love to her. Aestrella, who had given the name "Astrid" to Pontus in order to keep her identity secret, was amused by this, but explained that she had other commitments. Nonetheless, she hopes to see him again. Despite this distraction, Pontus was able to eventually make his way to the stables outside of the gates and buy four horses.

That evening, Pontus was really excited about fighting in the Pits - despite having never been to any of the fights and having no idea what to expect. While still in his room at the inn, he strapped umberhulk mandibles to his forearms, fashioned a mask out of various monster teeth he had collected and then smeared blood across his chest in the shape of crow wings. Jarrus decided he would go with Pontus, as his manager to be in his corner. It should prove amusing at least. Sarril decided to catch-up later, and Sir Gerard wanted no part of such nonsense, instead spending his time in the common room of the inn, listening to the conversations around him and trying to learn all he can about what is going on in Greyhawk.

Jarrus lent Pontus a cloak to cover up his accoutrements, and followed him to the secret place where he was able to give the correct password to get into the Pit underground. Inside was a seedy, crowded place. The Pit was a small, round arena below the floor where people could gather around and lean over a small wall to watch the fights. Some assigned seating was above, where it was clear that wealthy merchants and other important people could sit. And above that were special boxes where nobility of various sorts could watch. One of the boxes, which extended slightly over the pit on the opposite side, contained a shadowy figure who seemed to be in charge of the place. Off to one side of the pit was a cage, where Pietain Morvannis, Manager of the Pit, sat. Jarrus was able to speak to Pietain and get Pontus (whom he introduced as "The Umberhulk") added to the list for the Non-lethal Gladiator category. There were three type of fights that evening. Wrestling, Non-Lethal Gladiator (which uses blunt weapons, no armor, allows tap-out/surrender, and the rules prevent a killing blow to a knocked out opponent), and Full Gladiator (essentially no rules). Sarril arrived a bit later, and when he heard the announcement that The Umberhulk would be fighting Strom the Mad with 10:1 odds, Sarril immediately began placing large wagers on the Umberhulk.

After some silly wrestling matches that seemed to be popular with the older crowds, the Non-Lethal Gladiator combat began, and the place really filled up. Jarrus and Pontus were taken down into a waiting room to get ready. The first fight was between Eglantine, an extremely nimble fighter, and Grunk the Destroyer, a large half-orc who had previously tried to start trouble with Sir Gerard at the inn that morning. Shields, clubs and maces were spread around the arena. Eglantine elegantly grabbed his weapons and started striking Grunk from all sides. Grunk was slow and having a lot of trouble hitting him. Eglantine started getting cheered on by the crowd, and at one point turned to smile and raise his hands up (popular fighters get paid more by the house to fight, so this is a common tactic). Unfortunately for Eglantine, Grunk took advantage of this posturing to land a solid blow to his head, exploding Eglantine's brains across the side of the pit. So much for non-lethal combat, but accidents do happen, and its part of the game.

Next up was The Umberhulk (Pontus) vs. Strom the Mad. This was Pontus' moment. This was what he had been waiting for. He rushed out in full regalia, screaming his barbarian roar, getting the crowd stirred up. The fight lasted a while, but this gave The Umberhulk that much more time to work the crowd into a frenzy. By the end of the match, they were shouting his name. The Umberhulk took a lot of blows, but his injuries only fueled his rage. Victory was soon his. As the crowd shouted his name, he reached down to his unconscious opponent, ripped off his ears and tossed them into the crowd. The crowd gasped in horror. Some became sick to their stomachs. But some were even more excited. But Pontus broke the rules. He attacked his opponent after the fight. Guards immediately rushed into the Pit and escorted Pontus away and back into the preparation room. On his way out, he looked up and saw the shadowy figure in the box above smiling at him. But in the back room, Jarrus gave him an earful (no pun intended) about what was wrong with what he just did. After some time, a messenger came in to say the next fight would be between The Umberhulk and Grunk the Destroyer. It seems the crowd has tasted blood, and now they want more. Pontus was more than happy to fight again.

Jarrus went out to find Sarril, who was collecting his substantial winnings from the first fight, and already placing bets on the Umberhulk vs. Grunk match. He brought Sarril back to heal Pontus before
Grunk the Destroyer
the next match. Sarril gave him the last of his healing potions, which were able to bring him back to full health. Then the announcement was made, and Pontus went out into the arena to face his opponent.

Pontus again screamed his barbarian yell, but this time it was met in return by a deafening, inhuman sounding roar from his opponent. The match began, and both man and half-orc went for their weapons and shield, both selecting clubs. Though the odds were 2:1 in Grunk's favor, the actual match was much closer. Both combatants were of the same level. Grunk had a clear strength advantage (19 STR) and was specialized with a club, giving him +1 to hit and +2 damage. But his constitution was not substantial, so his it points were only slightly above average for a fighter, and he had an average dexterity, making his AC 9 with a shield. Pontus, on the other hand, had only a +1 strength bonus, but had ridiculous dexterity and constitution bonuses with his barbarian class doubling them. He had triple the hit point average of a fighter of the same level and his natural AC was 4, 3 with a shield. This was the fight Pontus was itching for. This was the fight that would prove his combat superiority.

But +9 damage on each hit was starting to add up fast. Pontus did land a critical hit at one point, but couldn't make the follow-up damage roll count. Grunk also got a critical hit in, doing over 30 points of damage in one round. Things were not looking good for Pontus. Pretty soon, Pontus was down to 3 hit points, and it was Grunk's attack. With +9 damage, there was no question that another hit would take Pontus into negative HP territory, and a roll of 5 or 6 on the damage die would completely kill him. But Grunk only got one attack this next round, so he could miss entirely. At this point Pontus was given the opportunity to surrender the match, or keep going. There was not a second of hesitation in Pontus' mind, of course he continues the fight. And so I rolled the attack roll for Grunk. . . 20 - critical hit! I rolled a 5 for damage, bringing the total to 28 ([5+9]*2). Pontus was very, very dead.

DM's Note: At this point I realized that I had been giving Grunk +11 for damage instead of +9, because I was double-counting the specialization by mistake. I went back and recalculated the damage, and it turned out Pontus did not have 3 hit points left, he had 12 or so, which would have kept him alive if it wasn't for the critical hit. But he was still dead either way.

The shadowy figure in the box above smiled widely, then walked away. The crowd cheered Grunk's name as Jarrus and Sarril collected the pay and carried the dead body of Pontus back to the inn, where they explained to Sir Gerard what had taken place. Sir Gerard insisted that they head out to the Village of Jakkarton the next day to visit the priestess of Heironeous named Asanthar, whom he was certain would be able to resurrect him. And with that, the party rested for the night.

The next morning, Gerard (not knowing that Pontus had already bought horses) purchased four horses while Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry to buy some fantastic, and expensive, magical items for the party. It is now noon on the 24th Day of Flocktime, 579CY.

May 24, 2017

A Sword for Pontus

On the morning of the 22nd Day of Flocktime, each of the party members decided they had their own business to do within the City of Greyhawk, and went their separate ways (this was in between sessions, so some players wanted to chat about what they were doing online). Sarril went to join the Guild of Wizardry and do some research in their fantastic library. Pontus went in search of a magical two-handed sword.

Now, normally, a Fruztii barbarian loose in the big city trying to figure out where to buy a magic sword would be a challenge, but Pontus was pointed in the right direction by the other party
members. He knew that the High Market was where the finest merchant sold their wares to the wealthy elite, and if anyone was going to have magic weapons for sale, it would likely be there. So off Pontus went in search of a sword.

DM's Note: Magic swords are somewhat rare, though finding a basic enchanted sword (+1) is reasonable if you are visiting the right merchant, but they are very expensive, and not usually the kind of thing simply on display in an open-market. But I figured it would be reasonable that some of the higher-end merchants may have one or two enchanted swords carefully displayed as a showpiece to attract customers. I decided that if Pontus spent a few hours visiting all of the weapon vendors, I would roll a d10 and that would be how many magical two-handed swords would be found across all vendors in the entire market. I rolled a 10. Today was a good day for Pontus to shop for a sword. I then rolled on the Unearthed Arcana treasure tables to see what kind of magical swords these would be. Most were +1, or +1 with a minor specialty (like bonus vs. reptiles, etc.), but a couple of very rare +2 swords appeared as well. The way the UA tables work is that you first roll percentile dice to determine which table to use. 95% and below uses Table I, which has some average to very good magical weapons on it. 96% and above uses Table II, which has a chance to get some of the most amazing non-artifact swords, like Sun Blades and the like. On the 10th roll, I rolled a 96% to go to Table II. I then rolled a percentage again to see what sword from Table II it would be, and landed something nearly impossible. While I don't like the idea of making a sword like this so easily available, I have a general rule that if this is a legitimate roll of the dice, I find a way to make it happen. There is no way any merchant would simply be selling a weapon like this at a market, or even within a well guarded shop. Weapons of this magnitude would handled very carefully through a private transaction. And so I decided this one would need to be played out.

Pontus spent a lot of time speaking to various merchants and looking at some of the finest enchanted greatswords ever to make their way into the city. But despite their fantastic quality, none could ever equal the sword wielded by his father - the family heirloom that had been handed down for generations pre-dating the migration of his people from the Suel Empire. That sword was his birthright, and now it was gone. None of these other swords could possibly be its equal. When a disappointing Pontus was speaking to the last merchant, he said "If money were no object, what kind of sword could you sell me?" This resulted in some back and forth conversation, wherein the merchant was trying to gauge the seriousness of the inquiry, and finally, after swearing Pontus to secrecy, looked around to see if anyone was watching, then reached under the table and pulled out the "Sword of Arcane Destruction" (a sword with a bonus vs. magic users - perfect for a barbarian). Pontus thanked the merchant, told him what a fine sword it was, but said he was looking for something even better, and that money really was no object. Finally, the merchant told him that he had something better and that Pontus should come by his shop in the Foreign Quarter at 8:00 pm that evening to get a private showing. Pontus agreed to the appointment and went back to the Silver Dragon Inn.

While at the inn, Pontus asked Olaf what a barbarian like himself could do to earn money. Olaf informed in, secretly, that he wouldn't normally recommend it, but he may be able to earn some money by fighting in the Pit. If Pontus was interested, Olaf could provide him with that evening's password to get-in, but he would need to be sworn to secrecy as the Pit is technically illegal in Greyhawk (despite that just about everyone in the Foreign Quarter knows about it). This excited Pontus greatly and he wanted to know what time the fights start. They start at 8:00 pm. Pontus immediately ran back to the High Market to find the merchant he was just speaking with to change the appointment time. This made the merchant nervous and Pontus had to talk him off the ledge a bit. The merchant finally agreed to an earlier meeting only if Pontus would come back at 5 pm and help him pack-up. He also had to pay for dinner. Pontus agreed to the terms and ran back to the inn, wherein he saw Sir Gerard, having just come back from a meeting with a cleric at the Sanctum of Heironeous. Pontus told Sir Gerard about the arrangement for the sword and Sir Gerard insisted that something sounded fishy, and he should come along to the meeting. Pontus reluctantly agreed.

Soon, it was time to go, and both Pontus and Sir Gerard went to see the merchant. Sir Gerard introduced himself, and the merchant stated his name as Waldo Parstiche, and his assistant, Elbrak. Gerard and Pontus helped break-down the merchant tent and load up the crates into a wagon as promised, and escorted Waldo and Elbrak back to his warehouse in the Foreign Quarter, where they secured the goods before heading to dinner at the Red Serpent Restaurant, where Waldo had made a reservation. Waldo, Gerard and Pontus had a very fine multi-course meal in a private room where they were able to discuss business without being disturbed. After the main meal, the door opened and two men walked in. The first man, dressed in a leather tunic, was introduced by Waldo as a business associate by the name of Dorian Gallamar. Dorian has brought the sword for viewing. The second man, dressed in a long black cloak with a hood covering his face, was Zynthar, whom Dorian said was there for his protection. Zynthar didn't speak, but just moved to the corner. Sir Gerard immediately focused his Detect Evil ability on both of the new men. Dorian emoted clear evil, but when he tried to focus on Zynthar, he received a shock in his head that disrupted his senses.

Sir Gerard immediately stood up and declared that Pontus should not go through with the deal as these men were clearly evil and not to be trusted. With his hand on the hilt of his sword, he moved to face Zynthar.

Dorian says "you think ill of me, Sir Gerard, and yet I have done nothing to slight you. This does not seem to be noble behavior. I am only here to conduct business. If your god allows you to see if I speak the truth, call upon him now. See that I mean what I say."

Pontus then went into a rage, saying "Waldo, this is a nice place." He slams his meat filled hand down on the table , hard. "It won't stay that way unless I see this ducking sword right now!!"

Dorian says, "Waldo, I am sorry. I do not know where you found these two, but I don't think we can don business." He then gets up to leave.

Sir Gerard calmed down and said "Pontus? There is no need for that." He nodded a salutary gesture with his hand on the hilt of his sword. Eyeing Zynthar.

Pontus calmed down and said "How about we just stop this back and forth and get down to business. I don't know who your friends are Waldo, but Dorian, if you are the guy let me know. What do you say Dorian? We all sit down, and act like the civil southerners we are?"

Sir Gerard responded "I will remain to stand in judgement Only! I do not condone any of this!"

Waldo then attempted his own diplomacy, saying "Dorian, please, stay. I think we can do this. Is everyone cool?"

With everyone somewhat calm, but now hyper-aware and trigger happy, Dorian removed a bag of holding from his cloak and set it on the table. He then pulled out a 6 ft long flat wooden box from the bag on to the table. After looking around the room and ensuring they were still alone and everyone was calm, he opened the box to reveal the sword.

The sword was truly magnificent, made of a strange metal that did not seem of this world. Unknown runes were etched along the blade. It may have been the most extraordinary sword Pontus or Gerard had ever seen. Waldo began to explain the sword and its backstory when Sir Gerard was filled with an overwhelming urge to pick it up.

Shaking off the urge, he turned to Zynthar, drew his blade and yelled "Show yourself fiend. NOW!" as he attacked Zynthar and missed. A confused Pontus lept over the table and drew his sword while
Dorian closed the box with the sword and started stuffing into the bag while yelling "THIEF! I'm being robbed!" Shortly thereafter, everyone into the room was stunned in place and couldn't move. Zynthar removed his hood to reveal a purplish alien looking face with squid-like tentacles over his mouth. An Illithid, also known as a Mind Flayer.

Pontus and Gerard could do nothing but watch the horror unfold as the creature moved behind Waldo, placed his tentacled mouth over his head, and began to feast on his brains. Waldo's eyes rolled back into his head, and then he slumped forward on to the table. Next, Zynthar moved to Pontus and started to do the same. After a few seconds of this, the doors burst open and in came four guards from the Nightwatchmen's Guild. Zynthar turned to the guards and made another mind-blast attack, stunning three out of four of them. By now, Dorian had the sword packed up and yelled to Zynthar "let's go!" and the two ran out of the restaurant.

Soon the owner, Cevin Estri came into the room to investigate while his wife was attempting to calm customers who were rubbing their heads, confused about what just went down. Cevin closed the door and he and the guards questioned Pontus and Sir Gerard about what happened. Sir Gerard felt confident in stating the an evil creature attacked him, and that Cevin is responsible for allowing an evil creature into his restaurant to begin with, even going so far as to demand reparations. The interrogation did not go well from that point, especially given that Waldo was a well-renowned merchant, and the guards did not much like Sir Gerard's righteous attitude. While they did not fully trust that Sir Gerard was innocent from provoking the incident, it was clear the mind-flayer was the one who killed Waldo and they had nothing to hold Pontus or Gerard on. They demanded they leave the restaurant and not come back. Sir Gerard offered his assistance in tracking down the mind-flayer, which the guards outright rejected, saying they would find the perpetrator and bring him to justice on their own. "Not if I find him first" replied Gerard, as he led a babbling, drooling Pontus out of the restaurant and back to the inn.

May 21, 2017

21st Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (The party takes out a cult of Wastri)

Once Pontus was turned back to living flesh, he and Sarril sat down and ordered some lunch. They had much catching up to do over the next couple of hours. Sarril relayed the story about how the party escaped the demi-planes and destroyed Zuggtmoy. He also explained how the party is now trapped in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress, along with some very bad demons. They decided to hatch a plan.

Sarril and Pontus travelled several miles north of the city, into the Cairn Hills and found a secluded location where they could activate the fortress without being seen. Sarril cast Strength on Pontus and gave him a Rod of Smiting to use in place of his sword to counteract the bladed damage reduction of the babau. Sarril cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability and Mirror Image on himself, then activated the fortress and charged in. The group inside never missed a beat, continuing the fight exactly where they left off. Shan-Ju again proved himself a formidable warrior as he took out another babau demon (due to another series of ridiculous die rolls on behalf of his player, who was also playing Pontus). Sarril globe was able to prevent the effects of the Ray of Enfeeblement from the babau's gaze, giving the party the opportunity to fight while looking at the beasts. Between Pontus, Shan-Ju, Sir Gerard and Jarrus, all enhanced by Luapan and Sarril, the remaining demons were dispatched very quickly.

After a brief introduction, Sir Gerard proclaimed that Pontus was sent by Heironeous himself to aid the party in their need, and thanked him appropriately. Sarril explained that they were outside the city the City of Greyhawk and that he had procured rooms for them inside the city. The party agreed to continue their plan of gearing up in Greyhawk before heading to Furyondy. Shan-Ju thanked the party for freeing him from the demi-planes, and explained that there is a monastery near the City of Greyhawk that may have some answers that he has been searching for, and he took his leave of the party (for now).

It was late afternoon when the party returned to the city, and after a quick visit to the High Market to see about commissioning some custom armor for Sir Gerard, the group went to the Silver Dragon Inn where Sarril relayed the story about the cult that was terrorizing the Foreign Quarter. He had found out earlier that it was a cult of Wastri, aka the Hopping Prophet, causing the trouble and the cult leader was starting to make some demands of the city. Merchants who were recent victims of arson attacks were desperate and hired another adventuring party at the Silver Dragon Inn to put a stop to the cult. Sarril was able to pick up the clues they were given, which speak to a particular beggar on the street who had some information. Once Sir Gerard heard about this, he insisted the party head out immediately to put an end to the evil. Having nothing better to do at the moment, the party headed out.

After finding the beggar and paying him to tell them the location of the hideout, the party went to the building - an abandoned bath house. Using Invisibility 10' Radius, they followed some of the cultists through the front door and launched a surprise attack. The cultists turned out to be Grung, intelligent amphibious creatures from the Vast Swamp. The grung were using poisoned arrows, but they were no match for the party. As a matter of fact, the party pushed through the bath house, easily defeating everything inside, which included another dozen or more grung, four giant toads and a cleric of Wastri by the name of Heironymous Spune. After freeing two merchants who were tied up, they learned that Heironymous Spune wanted revenge on the City of Greyhawk for some grievance that the once Lord Mayor, Zagig Yragerne, had inflicted on his master.

Sir Gerard was proud to have defeated evil twice in one day. Jarrus declared that the party now owns a bath house, which, after some renovations, will be a fine establishment. Sarril was happy to have fulfilled his promise to Tobin Potriades and now be able to join the Guild of Wizardry. Pontus was happy to no longer be a statue, while Luapan pointed out "hey guys, there are some bodies in the water there" noticing that some of the members of the previously hired adventuring party didn't make it very far and were tossed in the bath water to be frog food.

The party then headed back to the inn to rest, as each of them had separate plans to pursue in the morning.

May 20, 2017

Sarril in Greyhawk

When we last left off, Sarril had escaped the Daern's Instant Fortress with the rest of the party and the babau demons locked in stasis inside. He went to Greyhawk in the hopes of finding someone or something powerful enough to help deal with these monsters.

DM's Note: some of the players quickly pointed out to me the next day that I made a mistake in sizing these creatures, since Monster Manual II clearly states they are 7+14 HD, and I misread it as 14+7 HD. It is true, I did make that mistake, but I feel justified in treating them with the higher HD given that these creatures are described as eating Type IV demons for lunch, and that's no small thing. They also needed to be very challenging for the players, some of whom, after factoring in Sir Gerard's Protection from Evil aura, have as low -8 AC. Even these 14 HD creatures were having trouble landing blows. But most importantly, the players shouldn't be looking up stuff like that if their characters don't have access to the research material, though I accept that we've all been playing the game for so long that very little is secret.

After a chance meeting with Ravel Dasinder, High Patriarch of Boccob (who makes his office inside the University of the Magical Arts), Sarril was able to learn much about the babau demons, but was not able to obtain any other help from the High Patriarch. He then went to Otto's house in the Garden Quarter only to find it empty and now guarded by golems (which luckily Otto programmed to not attack Sarril). Sarril decided to spend the night in the spare room so he can go to the Guild of Wizardry and seek to join in the morning.

Being the apprentice of Otto, he thought he could walk right in and they would welcome him. It turns out, there is a protocol, and this protocol would not be waived for anyone. To enter the guild in order to petition to join, one must have their name placed on a list by dusk the day before. No amount of arguing on Sarril's part would get around this. So Sarril went to the University of the Magical Arts in Clerksburg (the academic district in Greyhawk) and met with Tobin Potriades, the Senior Tutor and known friend of Otto. After much discussion, Tobin agreed to add Sarril's name to the list if Sarril would do a favor for him. It seems two of his students were recently murdered in the Foreign Quarter, where an increase in cult activities has resulted in several kidnappings, murders and arson, with two university students being the latest victims. Tobin asked Sarril to investigate and determine who was responsible and report back to him in exchange for sponsoring guild membership.

Under an assumed name, Sarril checked into the Silver Dragon Inn in the Foreign Quarter. The Silver Dragon Inn is the largest and most famous inn that part of town, and is the place where the two murdered students had been staying. Sarril was able to meet the proprietor, Olaf Al-Azul, who was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Using the inn as a base of operations, Sarril set about retracing the last known steps of the students, hoping to uncover some clues as to what happened. He learned much about the Foreign Quarter during this time, including the kinds of businesses and people in the area, the power structure of the district (things are unofficially run by a mob boss named Duke Garand) and much of what goes on in the underground at dark. He learned about the recent arson against local businesses, the kidnapping of merchants and, specifically, how the murders were taking place - unknown assailants shooting poisoned arrows out of a covered wagon, seemingly at random. That evening, another attack took place as Sarril was leaving the Red Serpent Restaurant, and he sent his familiar, Krek, to investigate overhead while he cast a flight spell on himself and went invisible. This led to chasing to suspects in opposite directions. The first suspect ran to the Temple of Pholtus in the River Quarter, where he appeared to be pleading with the guards outside for help, but was turned away. The second suspect ran into an alley and activated a secret door that led underground. Sarril followed that suspect into what appeared to be "The Pit," an underground gladiatorial arena either run by, or supported by Duke Garand (despite such combat being illegal in the city). Sarril came to the conclusion that these were not suspects, but bystanders, and decided to stop the investigation for the evening.

Rather than return to the inn, he returned to Otto's home, deciding to use the portal inside the home that led to the corresponding house in Chathold, just to see if Otto might have left a note. It turns out he did. The note confirmed that Otto would be unavailable for a while, but more importantly, it was written on the back of a magical scroll - Otto's final gift to Sarril, a Stone to Flesh spell. The note also informed Sarril that Chathold was no longer safe, a fact that was soon reinforced as Sarril overheard shouting from outside demanding that all citizens swear fealty to Duke Szeferin and hand over the traitor named Kevont. A loud banging on the door came shortly thereafter, and an unseen servant inside the house spelled out a warning to Sarril to leave immediately. After Sarril ran back through the portal to Greyhawk, the portal closed behind him, sealing off that means of entry from future use.

Sarril headed back to the Silver Dragon Inn and spoke to Olaf and arranged to have private access to the lower-level bakery for 15 minutes. There, he restored the shrunken statue of Pontus on the stone floor, and burned the Stone to Flesh scroll, bringing Pontus officially back into the world at noon on the 21st Day of Flocktime, CY 579.

May 7, 2017

17th Day of Flocktime, CY 579

This week, we were short two members of the group, with another joining via video conference (isn't modern technology great?). I have a quorum rule that a simple majority of players must be present, so in this case, 3/5 was enough. Given that the party had to come to some agreement as to what to do next, less players probably helped make things go more quickly.

Sarril was very concerned that Iuz would, at the very least, have demons waiting for them when they went leave, if not deal with them in-person, so time was ticking away. Having touched the skull in order to operate the throne, Sarril knew that Iuz was aware of his location, despite the Amulet of Proof Against Detection that he now wore. The rest of the party decided it was worth the risk and they should do a quick search of the level for any treasure or other things of importance while the strength spells were still in effect. And so the party spent a few turns searching, turning up with some more magic items, including a second Wand of Fire and a Daern's Instant Fortress. The players immediately thought about how effective these two things could be together in a battlefield (i.e. the mage goes inside the indestructible adamantine tower and shoots fireballs out of the arrow slits), which inspired Sir Gerard (whose player was absent, so the DM took liberties) to insist that these items needed to be brought to Castle Hart immediately to assist in the coming battles against the Horned Society/Iuz/whatever that was certain to happen.

While the party was sifting through these items, Jarrus was busy prying gems from Zuggtmoy's throne. He managed to pull out 33 diamonds worth about 5,000 gp each, which he made clear is NOT "party treasure" as he placed them in his backpack. The party also found a map of the Flanaess on a wall in war room, which they rolled up and placed in the portable hole (DM's Note: this translates to the party being able to use the fold-out maps from the Greyhawk Boxed set whenever needed, which makes my job much easier). The search was cut short when the party entered a room and saw some mushrooms growing on the floor. Realizing this isn't a video game and they can't press "save" before continuing, they decided to get out while they were ahead.

Sarril used the skull to raise the throne back up to the ground level of the temple, where they expected to have to fight their way through demons. On the way up, he realized that he no longer felt the presence of Zuggtmoy through the skull, though the hateful gaze of Iuz was still upon him. As the party emerged into the upper part of the temple, they were nearly blinded by a bright light emanating
from the center of the room. At the center of the light was an angelic figure - a Movanic Deva. The deva congratulated the adventurers on their victory over Zuggtmoy and asked the party if they were ready to take the final step. Sir Gerard, after failing to detect evil, immediately fell to his knees and bowed in awe, presenting his sword in service to this magnificent creature. The rest of the party were skeptical, and used every limited form of detection they had available (Detect Evil, Detect Good, and plain old "disbelieve"), all of which turned up nothing. Having used up his True Seeing spell on Zuggtmoy, Sarril decided there was little choice right now except to play along and see what happens.

The deva asked Sarril to reveal the skull and place it upon the ground, which he did. She then explained that she cannot destroy the skull herself, but she will tell the party how to destroy it, and provide them with what they need, if they will agree to destroy it right now. Sarril agreed, upon which the deva provided exact instructions to the party, which were to expose the skull to a hurricane force wind, strike it with a maul made of pure granite, expose it to a fire as hot as a forge, then immerse it in freezing cold water. All of these things must be done in quick succession (within one combat round). The deva even provided the maul to be used (how convenient. . . and suspicious). She then thanked the party for the service done for the cause of good and said this would not be forgotten, then disappeared.

The party started by preparing the freezing cold water using an Ice Storm, and setting that aside. Then Sarril and Luapan got ready with scrolls of Gust of Wind and Flamestrike, while Jarrus stood by with the maul. Sarril cast Gust of Wind, Jarrus struck the skull, Luapan hit it with a Flame Strike and then Shan Ju knocked the glowing hot skull into the pool of freezing water. The gems shattered and the skull cracked. Shortly after, the ground began to shake and pieces of the temple roof began to fall. The sealed front doors blew open and crumbled. The party ran for the front door and out into the temple grounds.

And thus ended the adventure of The Temple of Elemental Evil (aside from a few loose ends, of course).

The arguments about where to go next were few. Jarrus wanted to go see his mother, who has since been revealed as the Countess Rhavelle of the Gold County in Furyondy. Sarril wanted to go to Greyhawk. The group recognized that if they go to Verbobonc, they would be right across the river from the Gold County, and they could take a boat from the same river directly to Greyhawk. After some brief discussion, they decided they would take a boat to Greyhawk first, then back to Furyondy. This would require a hike Southwest to Hommlet, then Northwest to Verbobonc (thus avoiding the swamplands, which everyone agreed should be avoided). The entire trip would take about 5 days on foot, during which Sarril would be identifying magic items. The first night in the ruins of Hommlet were uneventful. The second night spent on the road in the Kron Hills were also uneventful, as the party got to spend the night inside their new instant fortress. The third night was another story.

It was the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime. Jarrus was on watch at the top of the tower, sitting in an unpleasant rainstorm while the rest of the party was sleeping in the floors below. Suddenly he was engulfed in complete blackness as he felt three spears impale him from all sides. While the attack didn't kill him, he was very near death and would not survive a second blow. As he yelled for everyone to wake up, he reached in his bag for the Potion of Extra Healing that would save him from his demise. He was able to grab both the potion and his Continual Light coin at the same time. The Continual Light cancelled the darkness, and Jarrus was able to see his attackers. Three Babau Demons, withdrawing their spears from his body as he desperately drank the healing potion. This immediately exposed him to their gaze attacks, which had the effect of a Ray of Enfeeblement spell. He was able to save against the first, but failed the second (the third was behind him), and without his strength, Jarrus was pretty useless to continue fighting, and chose to dive down the trapdoor into the tower.

Once down in the tower, Sarril spoke the command to close the trap door. Unfortunately, one of the demons managed to slip through by polymorphing into a dragonfly and slipping through before the door closed. Jarrus, Gerard and Shan Ju attempted to hit the dragonfly unsuccessfully. After moving into the corner of the room, the demon reverted back to its normal form and went on the attack. Sarril dispelled the enfeeblement on Jarrus to make him active again while Luapan healed him. The party then began throwing everything they could at the demon, which proved to be a formidable foe. After a Prayer and Chant from Luapan, combined with Gerard's Protection from Evil bonuses, the party was able to get the upper-hand on the demon, with the final blow coming from Shan Ju (whose player rolled double 20s) punching through the demon's chest with his fist, grabbing its spine and ripping its skeleton from its body in a move worthy of the most gruesome of Mortal Kombat fatalities. Celebrations were short-lived, however, as three more babau demons gated into the room, spelling certain doom for the party. In response, Sarril ran out the front door where he saw two of the demons heating the metal of the adamantine tower to a bright glow. Sarril then spoke the command to return the tower to its portable cube form, trapping the party and the demons inside in statis.

DM's Note: The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide does not describe this property of a Daern's Instant Fortress, however, the ToEE module states that Hedrack possessed such an item and that he would use it in combat to summon forth a force of bugbears. This suggests that the bugbears must be in stasis inside, and thus I described this property when Sarril identified the item. This also led to the players discussing some interesting, and quite possibly overpowered, use of the item, so we'll see where that goes.

Lucky for Sarril, he had already cast Mirror Image earlier, and thus was able to survive the first round of attacks from the two demons outside. This gave him enough time to grab the cube and teleport away to the University of Magical Arts in Greyhawk, where, as chance would have it, the Patriarch of Boccob was up late studying, and agreed to meet with him.

It is late in the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime in the City of Greyhawk. Sarril is alone with the party, and three badass demons, locked in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress. He is actively seeking the help he needs to deal with these demons and get the party back out alive. It looks like we will be doing some one-on-one gameplay online for the next two weeks. Stay tuned. . .